UMW in Guatemala | Grassroots Development


Three women talking in the woods of Guatemala

UMW in Guatemala

Grassroots Development


Program Dates

March 2 — March 10

Spring Break 2024


Register for this program by November 1, 2023.

View our cancellation policy.

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Program Fees


$500 deposit due upon acceptance.
$1,399 payment due December 8, 2023.


  • Round-trip airfare
  • Airport transfers and ground transportation
  • Housing and accommodations
  • All meals
  • Guided tours
  • International health insurance
  • UMW Education Abroad fee

NOT Included

  • UMW tuition (may be included in your spring course load)
  • Personal expenses
  • Supplemental meals or snacks
  • Souvenirs
  • Immunizations
  • COVID-19 testing
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Health Information

International travel may require immunizations or preventative medicines. Please refer to the US Center for Disease Control’s Traveler’s Health Information Page for Guatemala for recommendations. The UMW Health Center provides free travel consultations by appointment, as well as travel information for UMW students. The Center for International Education recommends that each student have a personalized medical consultation prior to international travel.

This program includes moderate hiking through uneven terrain and a two-night stay in a rural homestay.

Led by Dr. Dawn Bowen of the Department of Geography, this spring break trip focuses on community development and cloud forest conservation, ecological understanding, traditional Maya ecological practices, and innovative agro-ecological techniques. These initiatives can address social needs, create economic opportunity, and build food security.  The program takes place in the Department of Alta Verapaz in the central part of the country and mountain communities along the Sierra Yalijux.

For more information about the NGO whose work will be explored, visit the Community Cloud Forest Conservation website. When you take part in this experience, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Visit the agro-ecology center with scholarship recipients.
  • Explore projects made to improve food security through agroecology.
  • Experience the daily lives of the Maya through a two-night home-stay.
  • Visit the cloud forest, Guatemala’s unique habitat for many endemic species of indigenous flora and fauna
  • Collect GPS data for agro-forest parcels recently planted in villages by young women.


For most of the trip, students will stay in rooms with bunk beds and a shared bathroom at the agroecology center. Meals and snacks will be provided at the center or out in the community. Students will also experience a two-night home-stay with a Maya family.


Students will earn 3 credits for GEOG 361. The course focuses on:

  • Demonstrating efforts in community cloud forest conservation;
  • Developing ecological understanding;
  • Reviving Maya ecological practices;
  • Experimenting with innovative agro-ecological techniques that can address social needs and build food security.

Class will meet weekly throughout the spring semester. Students will discuss relevant readings on community development, food security, deforestation, agroecology, and health. Four short papers are due prior to departure, with a journal during the trip, a final paper, and an oral presentation following the trip. This course satisfies the Beyond the Classroom general education requirement.

Requirements & Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this program, but students must contact Dr. Bowen for an application to participate (do not make your deposit until you have received notice of acceptance). Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to participate. This program is open to all UMW students regardless of major or year of study.


Faculty-Led Program Scholarships are available to UMW students (deadlines apply).


See the program fees and payment due dates in the right column. Use the Make a Payment button below to pay your deposit and regular program payment. Use the Special Payment option to pay a special amount (such as additional insurance or payment in a different amount as a result of a scholarship award).

Online payees have the choice of either credit card or eCheck (ACH) payment. ACH transactions will be charged a flat fee of $0.50 per transaction. All credit card payments will incur a 2.85% service fee. For credit card payments, a minimum convenience fee of $3.00 will be applied to transactions over $20.00 and under $106.00.

Payments can also be made in-person via cash or check (made out to “UMW”) at the UMW Cashiers Office located on the second floor of Lee Hall. No fees apply with this payment method.

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